UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

La puissance de l'art poétique d'Alfred de Vigny McLeman Carnie, Janette


Much has been written about Les Destinees of Alfred de Vigny. Both his singular style and the philosophical content of his poems distinguish him from other Romantic poets of the nineteenth century. He was an ingenious and imaginative poet whose deepest reflections were expressed by means of allegories and symbols. This study attempts to demonstrate how the poet communicates his philosophy through symbolic language. In spite of his artistic genius, Vigny would remain dissatisfied with his talent throughout his life. In chapter I, a detailed analysis of La Flûte reveals -Vigny's duality of character (poete-philosophe) and his fundamental need to attain perfection in his life. As a gifted man, he experienced estrangement from the rest of society. He considered himself a prophet and as such demanded veneration, indeed immortalisation from his fellow man. Chapter II deals with the chosen man's struggle to survive in a hostile environment. The genius finds little solace in life. Faced with a silent God ("Mais le ciel reste noir, et Dieu ne repond pas."), the poet turns to the real world for spiritual comfort. Vigny's scepticism concerning metaphysical issues caused him great anguish. He was unable to accept unreservedly the existence of God and to embrace the enigmas of the Christian doctrine. Guilt and despair are thus intrinsic elements in his poetry. In chapter III, we witness the development of a new religion: the Word of God is replaced by the Word of the poet which is based on truth, reason and justice. According to Vigny, truth and goodness are to be found only on earth and man alone controls his destiny. Vigny's poetry attests the enlightened man's struggle to assuage mankind's poignant existence. Chapter IV reveals the poet's compassion for humanity and his firm belief in man's goodness. The poet did not attempt to conceal his contempt for injustice and political regimes. The superior individual (Homme de l'Esprit) will, however, vanquish evil. Truth will eradicate ignorance, justice will prevail and man will embrace the highest virtues of human existence. Such was the dream of Alfred de Vigny. He was regal both as a man and as a poet. True, his philosophy is primarily pessimistic for there is much ugliness in the world. Nonetheless, Vigny demonstrates, through Les Destinies, that beauty also exists and man will find it in his constant struggle to maintain order, dignity and honour in life.

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